Everything seems to be in reach in our internet driven world. One of those things is definitely music. Music streaming like Apple, Spotify and Soundcloud have made it easier for fans to get the music they want. Often times for a discounted or free expense. The point here is that people don’t buy music anymore because they don’t have to. So how does an artist thrive in this environment? The way to do it is to sell yourself, not just your music.
Now of course there are people still buying music the traditional way. Also, artist do get paid from streaming but it is a substantially low amount. I think 10,000 streams is equal to one sale. In any case selling your music on its own won’t pay your bills as an artist. Instead you have to sell yourself as a brand and get people to invest in you.
Think about why people really love music. It isn’t because it just sounds good, its deeper than that. The music speaks to them or their experiences. It is important to the customer because they live their lives to this but they still don’t have to buy your music. However, if the customer believes in you, they will buy tickets to your show or merchandise that you own. That is the art od branding and that is what people buy into today.
I always like to give the example of J Cole when talking about branding. Before 2014, I was a some what fan of his. I knew he could rap and he made good songs but I didn’t feel like I knew him. It made me hesitate to really buy into him and I kind of dismissed him as another rapper I didn’t care about. Then I saw him perform a song called “Be Free” on the Dave Letterman show. The song talked about police brutality and need for black people to be heard. I felt the emotion and pain in his voice as he sang and then rapped. I was blown away. But not enough to be a complete fan. Link to performance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VzpCmRtCL0
Instead I kept my eye on him and watched in the coming months to see if that performance was reflective of the artist I perceived him to be. In the coming months J Cole proved to me he was just that. I officially became a fan and purchased my first concert ticket to his Forrest Hills drive tour and never looked back.
I never purchased a J Cole song in my life but his brand earned my loyalty. That is something money can’t buy.